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Sunday, Dec 22 2013 11:00 PM

HITS & MISSES: Customers foot bill for PG&E's own negligence

By The Bakersfield Californian

MISS: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has announced it wants to pass the buck yet again on the deadly shortcomings of its past infrastructure maintenance practices -- a responsibility which, in recent history, has drawn historic fines stemming from long-term negligence. Last week, PG&E asked permission to raise its natural gas rates an average of $5.23 per month for residential customers to help fund the ongoing maintenance and modernization of its pipeline system. As the consumer advocacy group TURN pointed out last week, this proposed rate hike comes as the California Public Utilities Commission is already reviewing a separate PG&E request to raise rates. TURN notes that the average consumer could end up spending about $18 more per month for essential gas for the home.

Eight people died in San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010, after inadequate maintenance practices contributed to a pipeline explosion. Moving forward, we know PG&E's massive pipeline system needs to be updated. Safety demands it. But isn't there some way to pay for this essential work without consumers footing the bill yet again? There is: shareholders.

HIT: Bakersfield state of mind

If you've been reading the news and flipping around sports channels the last few days, you might have noticed two common themes: Bakersfield and football. There was a lot of both.

On Friday night, the Bakersfield High School Drillers romped to a 56-26 win over Loomis-Del Oro in the CIF Division I State Bowl Championship. And though they came up just short, the Bakersfield Christian High School Eagles played in the Division IV title game earlier in the day, losing 36-23 to Modesto-Central Catholic. Saturday afternoon, a national television audience was treated to the Las Vegas Bowl, pitting two Bakersfield quarterbacks, Derek Carr of Fresno State and Cody Kessler of USC. Apparently we feed 'em right around here.

HIT: And they're great ambassadors

What some members of the BHS football team said after their state title win Friday night was just as impressive as their on-field performances. "Del Oro is a great team," Driller quarterback Asauni Rufus told The Californian's Zack Ewing. "They're one of the greatest teams in the state, and they made us earn it. The scoreboard doesn't show how hard this game was." Kevin Hayes, whose fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown sealed the Drillers' title, went to Twitter to thank a Del Oro player who gave him a helmet sticker when the two shook hands after the game. "I thought that was amazing," Hayes tweeted. We're amazed by the grace and humility of the new champions -- and their opponents.

MISS: Misfire in 'war on Christmas'

Once again, an Internet hoax has fooled the looking-to-be-angry masses. This time it was people who were upset over a suspended student who was allegedly disciplined for wishing an atheist teacher a "Merry Christmas." Defenders in the much-debated "war on Christmas" were up in arms. But it never happened. The rumor apparently started when the satirical website National Report claimed the injustice occurred at "Argon Elementary" in San Francisco, which sounds a lot like real-life Argonne Elementary. Angry emails, phone calls and threats ensued. Taxpayers get to pick up the cost of added security and staff hours.

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